DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. The man perhaps most responsible for Carl Edwards starting this season's Daytona 500 from the pole wasn't able to witness the feat in person.
Bob Osborne, Edwards' crew chief on his No. 99 Ford, hasn't been in Daytona Beach this week. His father died last week and Osborne was attending the funeral over the weekend.
While a typically a stoic guy, Edwards believes Osborne will like what he finds when he returns later this week.
This is about Bob Osborne and he's not able to be here today. This is a huge day for our whole crew, for all of Roush Fenway Racing, said Edwards, who because of a recent change in eligibility rules also earns a spot in the 2013 Budweiser Shootout.
This is a testament to how hard everyone has worked. These are the best cars we have ever had here at Roush Fenway.
Roush's lead engineer, Chip Bolin, has been filling in for Osborne this week.
Team owner Jack Roush was just as proud, as joining Edwards on the front row will be RFR teammate Greg Biffle. Edwards posted a lap at 194.738 mph in windy conditions, while Biffle ended up at 194.087 mph.
Edwards and Biffle are the only drivers whose starting positions are locked in for Sunday's 500. The remainder of the lineup will be set in Thursday's duel 150-mile qualifying races.
We worked all winter getting ready for this. It's just the beginning, Roush said. We hope we can put it together for the twin 150s and for the 500 next Sunday.
We would have liked to have won a championship at Homestead but we missed that last year. We do get a week to celebrate this pole.
Edwards and Tony Stewart finished the 2011 Chase in a tie but Stewart earned the championship via the tiebreaker, which was wins during the season (Stewart had five, Edwards one).
The pole was an unexpected prize for Edwards, who finished ninth in Saturday night's Shootout. I never considered this a possibility. I know that might sound bad but it wasn't something I was thinking might happen, he said.
In fact, Roush chided Edwards on his race strategy at Daytona during the pole winner's press conference.
You've been a little late going to the front, Roush said. He suggested Edwards make a move to the front earlier in this year's 500.
Edwards and Biffle had the most to celebrate on Sunday but there were several other drivers who also assured themselves a chance to win NASCAR's biggest race.
Last year's 500 winner, Trevor Bayne, David Stremme and Tony Raines also posted lap speeds good enough to make the field should they fail to race their win in on Thursday. Terry Labonte will also be assured a spot in the field by virtue of a past champion's provisional, should he need it.
Bayne, who turned 21 on Sunday, was among those with the most to lose as his Wood Brothers team was not locked into the field by owner's points.
This Wood Brothers team worked so hard this off-season to find us some speed and it showed, said Bayne, who posted the ninth-fastest speed.
To be able to know we're in the race is a load off everyone's mind and now we can concentrate on getting our car race ready for next Sunday.
Clint Bowyer had his speed disallowed after his No. 15 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection. The front-left of Bowyer's car was found to be too low.
Bowyer will have to start Thursday's qualifying race from the rear of the field, but his team remains locked in the 500 field by owner points.